Words on Wednesday

Words on Wednesday is going to be all about a part of the writing process as I do it, so look out for posts on drafting, revisions, and things in between and things that cover all of those things.

Today’s Words on Wednesday is all about the outlining process I was using for #PrincessStory before the struggles I was having. I may or may not change the outlining method, but I’ll let you know with a short post if I do. Anyway, I learnt this method from Susan Dennard, who can be found here and on Twitter. It may not work for you, but it works for Susan and I. Remember: different things work for different people!

The process starts with brainstorming.

This is the part of the process where you flesh out an idea. All of my projects start off as a spark that makes me be all like:


Excited Anna is excited.

If I don’t have a spark like that, then there is absolutely no point in writing it. In my opinion, you need to be excited about writing something, or it won’t go well. Seriously.

The spark for #PrincessStory!

I imagine that when most people think of brainstorming, they think of the sort of thing they did at school, a word in a circle with loads of lines sticking out. My outlining isn’t like that.Mine involves a lot of scribbling in a notebook. As much as I need until I feel ready to draft – however long that takes.

To start off with, I flesh out the spark that I got. If it was a piece of music, I listen to it and try and find similar music. If it’s an image, I look for similar images. If it’s a TV show or film, I’ll watch it as I brainstorm.

The spark for #PrincessStory was quite simply wanting to write a princess story, I can’t remember what the spark was for making it contemporary…

Once I’ve fleshed out the spark I go through my usual sources of inspiration and brainstorm. This can involve a lot of questions, lists, arrows, anything that helps me get the thoughts out of my head and into the notebook I’ve dedicated to the project.

Once all of the brainstorming is done – which can take anything from a few days up to a few weeks, I move onto the drafting or whatever outlining process I’ve chosen for that project.

The process I’d chosen for #PrincessStory is scene outlines.

I go through each scene one by one, outlining and then drafting it before I move onto the next one. This can make the whole drafting process a bit longer, but it is incredibly helpful, so I can’t complain.

Each scene outline starts off with that scene’s Magic Cookie, which I will talk more about next week, seeing as they’re relevant to any method. Obviously, a scene can have more than one, but most of my scenes only have one.



The magic cookie is the thing that makes you want to write that scene. That could be a feeling that the senes, tension between characters, a setting, that moment you’ve been wanting to write for ages. As long as it’s what makes you want to write that scene, it’s a Magic Cookie.

Once I’ve worked out and written down the Magic Cookie, I work on the scene outline. The best way to describe is it’s a lot like a screenplay. I write down what happens in order and sometimes I will write what the POV character is feeling or thinking if it occurs to me as I write it.

A recent scene outline!

Once that’s done, I’m ready to start drafting the scene! How do you brainstorm or outline a book?


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